Inspection questions quality and identity of Christian college in Norway


Northern Europe


image Study Bergen

The Norwegian education inspection organisation Nokut has reprimanded the Christian private NLA University College. Quality of education must get better there. But there are still questions about the Christian identity and academic freedom.

The Christian daily Vårt Land reports about the findings of Nokut (the Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education).

According to Nokut , the systematic quality work at NLA has some shortcomings. The university college must revise its schemes for systematic control, writes the governmental agency in a press release. Furthermore, the college must document how they include results from the quality work in the knowledge base for assessment and strategic development of the institution’s overall study portfolio.

According to rector Sigbjørn Sødal, NLA College had already seen the need for specific adjustments in the quality work and is already in the process of making things better.

The NLA is given a deadline on July 1st, 2022, to show that they have rectified the deficiencies. The school has about 2,600 students and 253 employees across institutions in Bergen, Kristiansand and Oslo.

Academic freedom

At the same time, Nokut began a revision of NLA’s institutional accreditation. This happened in the wake of a research ethics committee of Nokut claiming that the NLA does not give students and staff enough academic freedom. If Nokut agrees with the criticism, the Norwegian government might revoke the accreditation of NLA. This would mean deprivation of 281 million kroner (around 28 million euros) of state support.

The report came in the light of much criticism of the college’s Christian values, which is set out in a value document that employees must agree to.

According to conservative newspaper Norge Idag, it is mainly this sentence that has created debate: “Marriage between a man and a woman is in the tradition that NLA University College is understood as a guiding norm in cohabitation ethics.”

Accusation is nonsense

Political science professor Janne Haaland Matlary thinks the accusation of a lack of academic freedom is “nonsense”.

Janne Haaland Matlary. image Wikipedia Commons

“This is an extremely important matter of principle in a democracy like ours”, says the professor, who works at the University of Oslo. “If Nokut concludes that the school’s values threaten academic freedom, it would be completely unacceptable.”

In an article in Norge Idag, Haaland Matlary points out that Norway has private schools and colleges with different pedagogies, where the point should be diversity. According to Haaland Matlary, many Christian schools around the world share the values that NLA has. “The Christian definition of marriage is not just Christian; it is natural law and has been the standard for thousands of years.”

Haaland Matlary says those who work at NLA must respect that it is a Christian college – just as she must accept that the University of Oslo is not.



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